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PM salutes Gandhi, forgets Rajiv

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday marked 25 years of panchayati raj with tributes to its ideologue Mahatma Gandhi while completely ignoring the institution's architect, Rajiv Gandhi.

By Rasheed Kidwai
  • Published 25.04.18
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Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday marked 25 years of panchayati raj with tributes to its ideologue Mahatma Gandhi while completely ignoring the institution's architect, Rajiv Gandhi.

As Prime Minister in 1984-89, Rajiv had toiled to introduce a system of local governance that would allow elected rural bodies to identify and spend money on specific projects without having to seek the state government's approval.

But in October 1989, just four days before a general election was called, his initiative for the constitutional amendment fell short of the required two-thirds majority by just three votes in the Rajya Sabha.

By the time Parliament passed the amendment in December 1992, under P.V. Narasimha Rao, Rajiv was dead. The panchayati raj came into force in April 1993.

Modi lauded the Mahatma's vision as he launched a Rs 2 lakh crore Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan, which aims to help the country's panchayat institutions develop governance capabilities.

"Panchayati Raj Day is an opportunity to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's dream.

"The government will help people's representatives in the villages to empower their villages and people," he told his audience at Mandla in Madhya Pradesh.

On the other hand, Modi took an oblique dig at Rajiv's family, the Nehru Gandhis, criticising the way most narratives of India's freedom struggle revolved round "some people and families".

Modi was speaking about plans to open museums across the country in the memory of unsung freedom fighters, including members of tribal communities, who have a sizeable presence in Mandla.

"It's unfortunate that accounts of India's freedom struggle have revolved round some people and families," the Prime Minister said.

"To highlight the contribution of people who played a major role in the freedom struggle since 1857 (but are not widely known), a museum dedicated to them will be set up in every state."